November 23 2014 Latest news:
West Suffolk chief reporter
Monday, July 21, 2014
Amateur vegetable-growers are appealing to the county council to help them solve an allotment shortage in their town.
There are currently around 90 people on a waiting list for plots in Sudbury, and now local councillors would like to see a piece of a former middle school playing field used to accommodate the burgeoning number of potential gardeners.
Suffolk County Council owns the land behind the old Uplands Middle School building, which was recently demolished, and according to county councillor John Sayers, it would provide the ideal site for allotments.
He told the town council’s leisure and environment committee: “The strength of the town council’s need for allotment space is well established and these former middle school playing fields would be very suitable.
“In order to secure the land for allotments, the county council would have to apply for change of use and we would have to meet certain criteria.
“But I believe having allotments on that site would have many educational and social benefits, and the idea fits entirely with the county’s priorities in terms of the potential environmental and health benefits.”
Under the 1908 Allotments and Small Holdings Act, councils have a duty to provide land for would-be gardeners.
Sudbury Town Council has already resorted to quartering the size of its allotments in a bid to accommodate more ‘hobby growers’.
But committee member Peter Gray said: “For the size of the town, Sudbury is failing its citizens when it comes to the provision of allotments. I think we should strongly support any possibility of getting space in the Uplands Middle School area.” But a county council spokeswoman said the site was covered by legislation which required the council to offer the land to other nearby schools to increase their playing fields in the first instance.
She said: “This offer is likely to be taken up by both Ormiston Sudbury Academy and Tudor Primary for some of the land.
“Conversion of a playing field to allotments would require Secretary of State approval and there would need to be extensive community consultation demonstrating why the facility is no longer required.”